Lantern Festival in My Motherland – Taiwan!

This post about the Taiwan Lantern Festival is sponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.

If you didn’t know already, I was born in Taiwan and I can’t praise my motherland enough. The food is to die for and the people are one of the friendliest in the world! What better way to experience authentic Taiwanese culture and hospitality than to visit the Taiwan Lantern Festival?

Also known as 元宵節 (Yuan Xiao Jie), it’s considered one of the most significant festivals in Taiwan. The first full moon of the Chinese New Year shines on the 15th day of the first lunar month- this is exactly when the Lantern Festival takes place. You can say that it’s the grand finale of the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival!

Kollecting Koordinates - Taiwan Lantern Festival

Image source: Taiwan Tourism Bureau

History and Background of the Taiwan Lantern Festival

元 (yuan) refers to the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar, and 宵 (xiao) refers to ‘night’. In a nutshell, the Lantern Festival symbolizes unity, prosperity, and new beginnings. The whole idea is to celebrate the coming of spring and a fresh start to the year ahead.

So how did the Lantern Festival come about in the first place? There are tons of legends and myths surrounding the origin of this festival. Some say the celebrations are to ward off evil, others say these festivities welcome deities. One legend talks about pleasing the Gods, another explains that firecrackers and red lanterns are to distract an angry emperor.

Whichever story you believe, this important event is where the Taiwanese gather with their loved ones to welcome a brand new year filled with happiness and good fortune.

Festivities include making lanterns, solving riddles, and eating 湯圓 (tangyuan), which are glutinous rice balls with sweet or savoury fillings. Growing up in Taiwan, it was a yearly tradition for my family to gather at my grandparents’ house in ChiaYi to make sesame flavoured tangyuan from scratch. The kids would run around with decorative lanterns and play with firecrackers, under adult supervision of course!

Kollecting Koordinates - Taiwan Lantern Festival

One of my favourite desserts: tang yuan! It’s usually served hot in a sweet soup but you can find this cool twist at Tong Hua night market!

Taiwan Lantern Festival

The first Taiwan Lantern Festival was held in 1990. Since 2001, the official national Taiwan Lantern Festival has been hosted in different cities every year, with each year being bigger and better.

This annual event features dazzling laser and light displays, parades, live music, and various performances. If you’ve been wanting to watch lion and dragon dances, acrobatic acts, fireworks, and folk art skits all in one place, this is the place to do it! Visitors can also check out booths selling traditional handicrafts and snacks.

YunLin County in the mid-western part of Taiwan has been selected as the host of the 2017 festival, which marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese zodiac. The venue will be decked out with lanterns, lights, and art installations, including a gigantic rooster lantern installation at the exhibit!

Kollecting Koordinates - Taiwan Lantern Festival

The giant zodiac installation last year- Year of the Monkey! Image source: Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Sky Lantern Festival in Ping Xi

Running concurrently is the Sky Lantern Festival in Ping Xi, a small village in New Taipei City in northern Taiwan. People from all over the world visit Ping Xi and Shi Fen year-round to release sky lanterns with their wishes written on them.

Kollecting Koordinates - Taiwan Lantern Festival - Sky Lanterns

My friend and her hubby at Shi Fen station. Photo cred: Angel at Also There’s This

During the actual Lantern Festival, thousands attend this one-of-a-kind Sky Lantern Festival after dark to launch lanterns into the night. Imagine countless glowing lanterns slowly rising and lighting up the black sky with everyone’s hopes and dreams!

2017 Taiwan Lantern Festival – Event Info

Event Page:  Taiwan Lantern Festival
Dates: February 11 – 19, 2017
Location of the 2 exhibits:

  • Between the HSR (Taiwan High Speed Rail) YunLin Station and the Agricultural Ecological Park (Map)
  • BeiGang township – surrounding areas of ZhongShan Rd and the Tourist Bridge (Map)

For more information, please visit Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s official website or check out their Facebook page.

Kollecting Koordinates - Taiwan Lantern Festival

Image source: Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Heading to Taiwan? Make sure you try these must-eat dishes while you’re there!

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Kollecting Koordinates - Taiwan Lantern Festival

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29 thoughts on “Lantern Festival in My Motherland – Taiwan!

  1. This looks absolutely amazing! We went to a lantern festival in Korea last year, but this festival tops it by at least 10 times. I’m always a sucker for taking photos of lanterns, and your photos are all spectacular! Especially the ones of the lanterns going up into the night, I’ve always dreamed of taking photos like that.

  2. Beautiful photos and wonderful tradition! We also have a sky lantern festival here in Zagreb and this year they are featuring some environmentally friendly lanterns – I’m looking forward seeing it in person for the first time.

  3. Wow, what a beautiful festival. The lanterns look amazing. I’d love to visit this in the future and see it for myself. I can imagine it being even more spectacular in person – romantic, even 🙂

  4. Wow! That looks like just out of fairyland. The lantern festival looking amazing and we are sure it must much more beautiful to witness it in person. It always great to hear about the legends behind the festivals from a local and we are glad you shared it with us. Would love to visit the festival someday soon 🙂

  5. I would love love love to be in Taiwan during the lantern festival! We just came back from our first trip to Taiwan and fell in love! We keep saying it’s Asia’s most underrated tourist destination! We are going to have to figure out a way to go back and when we do it will have to be for this lantern festival!

  6. How beautiful. I love traditions like this. It’s interesting that all around the world people from such different culture celebrate with fire and light. I would love to experience this festival for myself one day

  7. I love colourful festivals, especially ones with balloons and lanterns! The different origin stories are interesting too, I suppose the real meaning has been lost along the way. But hopefully the festival covers all the legends & wards off evil spirits & appeases the gods 🙂

  8. I’ve seen these beautiful lantern photos everywhere and had no idea what the meaning was behind it. Finally, I know! It makes the photos I see have so much more meaning. I would love to see this in real life someday 🙂

  9. It looks so gorgeous. I love lantern festivals. I think it’s interesting that in Korea, the largest lantern festivals surround Buddha’s Birthday not the Lunar New Year. There are other lantern festivals in the autumn, but largest by far is around the Buddha so it’s interesting that it’s not that way in Taiwan. I’ve always wanted to see the lanterns floating up into the sky in person there though. They don’t do that here.

  10. This festival looks amazing! I have always wanted to go to one in Thailand but this would is great too! Great photos! I want to go to Taiwan just to eat their desserts!

  11. I’d be very interested in visiting Lantern Festival – it would be a good excuse (and great occasion) for visiting Taiwan! Your photos sure do make it look incredible. I’m also really intrigued by tang yuan – tasting new foods is one of my favourite parts of travelling!

  12. Stunning and incredible experience no?!?! I love this kind of things and this post brings me back to Vietnam and when I went to Hoi An; I lived the same experience, lanterns and colourful city during the night too!! thanks for sharing, 😀

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